Oct 12, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Antone Smith (35) celebrates his touchdown reception with wide receiver Roddy White (84) and running back Devonta Freeman (24) in the third quarter of their game against the Chicago Bears at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
5. Running backs
Here’s where the Falcons have ranked in rushing yards since 2011: 17th; 29th; 32nd; 24th. Something needed to change, and it did.
May 26, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Tevin Coleman (26) on the field during OTA at Falcons Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
The Falcons now have two strong backs in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Freeman, entering his second season in the NFL, is ready to burst on the scene when handed the football more often.
Freeman isn’t the biggest back at 5’8 208 pounds, but he is tough and has the ability to run between the tackles. He carried the football 65 times for 248 yards and a touchdown last year, but should see more playing time this season.
With a year of experience Freeman is ready to make some noise in the NFL, and will be given every chance to succeed in Kyle Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme. Freeman certainly believes he can be the main guy at running back.
“Personally, I want to be the man. I want to be the guy. I want to make my own name with the Atlanta Falcons. I want to go really, really far. I want to set the bar high. I just want to win a Super Bowl and maybe be the MVP one day,” Freeman said, per Vaughn McClure of ESPN.
“You just never know. I feel like I’m hungrier right now. I don’t know what’s gotten into me this offseason. I just feel like a whole new monster. And I ain’t just talking.”
Tevin Coleman will give him tough competition.
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The rookie out of Indiana is a violent back who can turn a short gain into a home run. He hits open space with such speed that linebackers and defensive backs have to attempt tackles at poor angles.
Coleman has the ability to start right away in Atlanta, and he will be a complement to Freeman in the running game. It’s also entirely possible he becomes the starter.
Behind them, the Falcons have a solid No. 3 in Antone Smith. Smith only has 29 carries in his career, but he’s made the most of each opportunity he’s had, rushing for 286 yards (average of 9.9 yards per carry) and four touchdowns.
He knows how to find the end zone, and he could force his way into the discussion with a good training camp.
Under Kyle Shanahan, this unit should excel.
Next: No. 4